I used to work for Blockbuster Video (that dates me a bit, I know) and working there was great for many reasons. 10 free rentals a week ain’t bad, not to mention early access to new releases. But what I valued most from my experience was it gave me a safe place to learn how to sell. I ended up being one of the top sellers in my district on a consistent basis because I would try new things out. We sold Rewards memberships (Gen X and Boomers love these, so if that’s your target demographic, develop a rewards system. Your sales will spike.) and a coworker and I used to come up with the craziest sales pitches that we would tag team on to boost each others sales. We would make wild, untrue, outlandish claims, like it cured baldness, or some equally ridiculous thing, and then say, “actually, it doesn’t do any of that, but it does get you free rentals sometimes, shall I ring one up for you?” I don’t have these numbers recorded, but if memory serves we would make the sale 7 or 8 times out of 10. Sales is the backbone to every business, and if you don’t know how to sell you won’t stay in business for long. Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years on how to boost your sales and start hitting your target more often.

1) Know Your Customer

Knowing who your customer is will drastically increase your ability to sell. The reason is that when you have a clear idea of who your customer is you will have a clear understanding of how to communicate with them. Going back to my blockbuster story, the “it cures baldness” line would kill with bald men who were comfortable being bald, but I wouldn’t dare have said it to someone with a comb over or a toupee. I knew my audience enough to know how each of them liked to be communicated with, and would alter my strategy depending on who I was talking to. A great way to understand your customer is to invent them by creating a detailed customer avatar. A customer avatar is a profile of your ideal customer. You want to give them a name, an age, a job, hopes, dreams, aspirations, hobbies, flaws, even down to the car they drive. What are they proud of? What are they ashamed of? Write down what makes them happy, or sad, or glad, or mad, or any other emotion Fred Rogers taught us about. You want to get as specific as possible, don’t say “my target demographic is 18-35 year-olds, so my avatar is 18-35.” No. Your avatar is 25, her name is Cindy, she is a flabotamist from Pasadena California who drives a Dodge Durango, and is gunning for a promotion at work, but she’s having trouble getting it because she’s a little disorganized. And now that you know that you can tailor all your marketing and content to speak to that person. While not everyone meets those exact criteria, many will be 25, or from Pasadena, or be gunning for a promotion, or be a little disorganized.

If you don’t know who your ideal customer is, you should start stalking your competition. Sign up for their email list to see what kind of copy they write. Check out their Facebook posts and ads and see who is engaging with them. Once you have a better idea of who they are talking to and how, you will have a better idea of who you should be talking to and how.

2) Know Your Worth

A lot of people feel bad for charging high. They greatly undervalue what they do, or couldn’t dream of spending that amount of money themselves, and so they charge too low and it ends up costing them sales. You need to charge more for what you do. Yes, some businesses that thrive on undercutting their competition, like Amazon, but they can do that because of the sheer quantity of traffic they are doing. If you don’t have Amazon’s budget to open warehouses and spend millions of dollars on marketing, your best bet is to actually charge more. The reason is that people want luxury. Charging less makes you seem like you don’t know what you’re doing, and people want to feel like they are in good hands. You wouldn’t buy a $10 massage, you want to spend at least $90 on a massage. And while you might not have $500 a bottle wine money, you still generally buy the most expensive one you can afford. Charging more makes your product or service seem more valuable, and so people want to buy it because they can see the value in it. Check out what your competition is charging, and charge something similar or higher, because the truth is when you charge too low you are not only devaluing yourself, you are devaluing your entire industry and telling people that what you do isn’t worth the price tag.

3) Know When to Walk Away

This one is huge. Knowing when to walk away is key because not everyone is going to buy, and a lot of those non-buyers will waste large amounts of your time. You need to be able to weed out these people so you aren’t chasing after a sale you won’t get, and so you can redirect your energy to the customer who actually will buy something. By the same token, if someone unsubscribes to your email list that is a good thing, because that person wasn’t going to buy anyway, and now your email list is a more focused sales tool. The only thing you need to watch out for with this is that you don’t start discriminating against people based on appearance. Make the decision to walk away based on their behavior, not their appearance.

4) Outline Expectations

I recently had a conversation with someone who asked me how much they should be charging as an hourly rate for SEO services. I told them not to charge by the hour, but by the deliverable. This is what I do in my digital marketing agency, because I know I do great work fast, and I know how much that deliverable is worth to someone, so why should I punish myself for doing great work fast by charging them for the actual time worked rather than the valuable service I provided them? They are paying for my knowledge and years of experience, not the 30 minutes it takes me to write some content for them. Now, this won’t work for everyone, but the example stands. I charge a retainer fee to access all our services, and then a set fee for trackable deliverables that get results for my clients. No matter what you are doing you want to be clear on what the deliverable looks like, and how many revisions they get with that price. When I was doing graphic design I would run the thumbnail sketches for a design past the client for their approval, then when I presented them with the finished product they could request up to 2 revisions because that was outlined in our contract. If they wanted any changes after that they would be charged a “changed my mind” fee. This way of doing things actually puts your customers at ease because they know there will be no hidden billing surprises, and they know what to expect from the finished product.

5) Ask for the Sale

A lot of people do a great job presenting their product or service and then get shy when it’s time to ask for the sale. They don’t want to come off as sleazy or salesy, so they don’t ask, or they ask in a passive way that doesn’t prompt the customer enough. If you truly believe in your product or service and think that it will make your customer’s life better, then you have nothing to be afraid or ashamed about in asking for the sale. You are helping them! Include a strong CTA in your marketing that will entice and excite your customer to make a decision. The worst they can say is no. You should have these CTA’s in multiple places on your website too. Nothing frustrates me more than being on a website, deciding I want the product, and then not being able to find a clear way to give them my money. A lot of websites have lost my business by not having a clear CTA button, and then we both go away unhappy. I learned this lesson while working another retail job. I worked at Pottery Barn for a while, and when I was showing someone a couch we would go through the different configurations the couch came in, and then go through fabric swatches, and as soon as I heard them say, “oh, I really like that one!” I would say, “great! Shall I ring this up for you?” the majority of them said yes, some wanted to keep looking at other swatches, and some would say no, but I closed the majority of them by simply asking for the sale.

Implementing these strategies will drastically increase your sales. You won’t make every sale, but like I said, knowing how to recognize when people aren’t going to buy lets you refocus your energy to the people who are going to buy, and you will start hitting your sales goals more consistently. If you want more information on customer targeting and how to create a customer avatar, check out my guide to customer targeting here.